Quayle was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from DePauw University in 1969 with a B.A. degree in political science. A scion of the powerful Indianapolis-based Pulliam Publishing newspaper family, Quayle served as associate publisher of the Huntington Herald Press, a family-owned newspaper, before entering politics.
He was then elected in 1976 to the House of Representatives at age 29. At age 30, he was elected to the Senate. As Vice President he made visits to 47 countries and chaired the President's Council on Competitiveness and the National Space Council.
He was widely ridiculed in the media and by many of the general public as a lightweight and was prone to verbal gaffes; as a result of this reputation, a great many apocryphal quotations are attributed to him. Most famous was his correcting a student's spelling of potato as "potatoe". When this story is related, it is usually not mentioned that Quayle was relying on a spelling bee card on which the word had been misspelled by the teacher.